BSO Pulse: Tank and the Bangas
Prepare for a night of serious fun when high-energy Tank and her four best Bangas take the stage with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Enjoy a pre-show in the lobby with J Pope and the HearNow, then head inside to hear the BSO take on Villa-Lobos and Stravinsky before ceding the stage to Tank and the Bangas … and then, gloriously, melding classical and contemporary as the pair play together.
$25-$45. Jan. 4 at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. 410-783-8000, bsomusic.org
In this breathtaking show of performance art, artists recall the traditional culture of China (once known as the Land of the Divine) through music, dance and more. Even if you’ve seen the show before, don’t skip it — 2018 brings a brand-new program combining “technological innovations and historically authentic costumes with breathtaking animated backdrops.” Fascinating fact: According to the artists that created the show, it cannot be performed in China because the traditions it portrays are perceived as a threat by the communist government.
$80-$180. Jan. 26-28 at the Hippodrome. 888-974-3698, shenyun.com/baltimore
An American in Paris
Based on the 1951 film of the same name, newish musical “An American in Paris” tells the tale of a love rectangle between the mesmerizing ballerina Lise and her three suitors: Frenchman Henri and World War II veterans Jerry and Adam. The play, which won four Tony Awards and was nominated for eight more, debuted in France in December 2014 and in America in April 2015. It features music from George and Ira Gershwin. P.S. It makes for a fantastique date night.
$43-$99. May 1-6 at the Hippodrome. 800-343-3103, baltimore.broadway.com
If you think you know the story of Peter Pan and his eternally youthful lost boys, think again. In a world-premiere(!) adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale, writer/actor Joshua Conkel presents a world in which Neverland serves as a collection of those rejected by society, particularly those in the LGBTQ+ community. According to Single Carrot, who commissioned the work, the adaptation “includes contemporary conversations on gender, sexuality, and performative identity and embraces queer culture.” Pretty fly.
$10-$30. Apr. 25s-May 20 at Single Carrot Theatre. 443-844-9253, singlecarrot.com
Everyone knows that a great meal can bring people together. But in Julia Cho’s lyrical play “Aubergine,” food does more than foster good feelings, it holds a family together. As a Korean family fights to stay connected in the midst of emotional turmoil and cultural divide, it’s their shared culinary tradition that helps to bridge the gap. Come see why the San Francisco Chronicle calls it “sweet, savory and uncommonly nourishing.” Plus, it’s the show’s Mid-Atlantic debut!
$15-$65. March 14-April 15 at Everyman Theatre. 410-752-2208, everymantheatre.org
Though Phaan Howng’s “The Succession of Nature” has been on show since late fall, it’s worth a mention simply because it’s so extraordinary — and because it will doubtlessly end the weekend before you’ve told your friends you’re thinking of going. The exhibition, which manifests in an otherworldly swirl of color and light, is a partnership between Howng and Blue Water Baltimore. (The “unnatural” colors in her full-room installations are meant to simulate toxic waste.) Don’t miss the accompanying series of programs, which meld the artistic and the environmental in thoughtful, and thought-provoking, ways.
Free. Through Aug. 31 at the Baltimore Museum of Art. 443-573-1700, artbma.org
Kinetic Sculpture Race
The American Visionary Art Museum’s quirkiest, kookiest event returns! Watch as the Kinetic Sculpture Race, comprising hordes of outlandish vehicles of all shapes and sizes, wends its way through Charm City and over land and sea (or at least the Inner Harbor). If you’ve been watching it for years, consider making this the year you throw your hat in the ring. After all, what could possibly be more satisfying than winning “Grand East Coast National Mediocre Champion?”
Free ($75 entry fee for participants). May 6, beginning at the AVAM. 410-244-1900, avam.org
Rite of Spring
Did you know that Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” incited a riot upon its debut in 1913? Though the exact cause of the uproar is unclear, music historians postulate that everything from the dissonant chords to the thundering rhythm threw the crowd into fits. Despite (or perhaps because of) this, the piece is frequently performed to this day. This iteration, presented by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, is followed by a more melodious performance by saxophonist Branford Marsalis … but even still, you might want to bring your shield to be safe.
$30-$99. Feb. 22 at the Meyerhoff and Feb. 25 at the Strathmore. 410-783-8000 (Meyerhoff) and 1-877-BSO-1444 (Strathmore), bsomusic.org
Cirque Zuma Zuma
Fans of “America’s Got Talent” may remember the dynamic Cirque Zuma Zuma from the show’s sixth season. But even if you’ve never seen them on the silver screen, the performance from the African-style circus (often referred to as “African Cirque du Soleil,” though the pair aren’t officially affiliated) is well worth the trip to Annapolis’ Maryland Hall. Backed by live music, the Zuma Zuma squad puts on “an action‐packed show of pole and aerial acts, Egyptian limbo dances, South African gumboot dances, Gabonese tumbling, and South African contortionist feats.”
$25-$30. Feb. 15 at Maryland Hall. 410-263-5544, marylandhall.org
It’s a tale as old as time: Boy meets girl, girl must decide between true love and her life as a princess/noble/A-lister/etc. Though we’ve seen the story play out in countless ways, somehow it remains compelling. Exhibit A: “La Traviata,” Verdi’s classic Italian opera based on Dumas’ play “La Dame aux Camélias.” This time, courtesan Violetta must end her fun, fabulous life to accept the love of the impoverished Alfredo. But don’t automatically assume a happily ever after, as Violetta may not be exactly as she seems.
$25-$100. March 16 and 18 at Maryland Hall. 410-263-5544, marylandhall.org
Writers LIVE: Katia D. Ulysse, “Mouths Don’t Speak”
Join Katia D. Ulysse, author of the short story collection “Drifters,” as she reads from and discusses her latest work, “Mouths Don’t Speak.” Ulysse, who was born in Haiti, writes of the 2010 Haitian earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions. The novel centers on Jacqueline, now living in the U.S., who fears for the lives of her parents while struggling with her husband’s PTSD and her own increasing anxiety. See why celebrated novelist Edwidge Danticat calls Ulysse “a phenomenal writer.”
Free. Jan. 20 at the Govans Branch of the Pratt Library. 410-396-5430, prattlibrary.org
Stoop Storytelling Series: On Drugs
As America wages war on the worst opioid crisis in the country’s history, it can be easy to become numb to the once-startling statistics of addicted populations and overdose deaths. But, as Stoop Storytelling consistently reminds us, every person has a story. Hear from those affected by substance abuse in “On Drugs: Stories about Dependence, Destruction, and Salvation,” Stoop’s last show of the 2017-2018 season.
$20. April 19 at the Senator Theatre. stoopstorytelling.com
The Preakness Stakes
Break out your biggest, most beautiful (or most ostentatious) hat! Despite persistent rumors of a move to Laurel Park, Maryland’s leg of the Triple Crown returns for its 143rd year at Pimlico Race Course. The race will be preceded by its usual host of activities, from a Hot Air Balloon Festival in Ellicott City to much-loved Black-Eyed Susan Day for the ladies. (Honestly, what could be better than big hats and signature cocktails?) We’re betting a good time will be had by all.
Prices vary. May 20-21 at Pimlico Race Course. 877-206-8042, preakness.com
Fittingly, the third annual Light City festival will expand to three weekends in 2018, giving the hundreds of thousands of attendees a little more time to dive into its expansive offerings … and, hopefully, to increase the already hefty boost to the Baltimore economy it brings ($44 million last year). This year brings the usual Neighborhoods Lights artist-in-residence programs and spectacular BGE Light Art Walk, as well as the impressive social innovation conference [email protected]. If we’re being real, though, the top of our wish list is the return of the Peacock.
Free (except for conference fees). April 6-8 and 14-21 citywide. 410-752-8632, promotionandarts.org
Maryland Film Festival
After a successful first year in its new venue, the Maryland Film Festival returns to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theatre (say that three times fast). The Festival, which last year showed more than 50 movies and shorts, highlights local talent, international and independent film, experimental moviemaking and more. It’s impossible (or nearly so) to see them all, of course, but the new website’s detailed descriptions of each and the festival’s convenient one-venue location make it easier to both decide what’s on your to-see list … and binge-watch your picks with ease.
Prices vary. May (exact dates TBA) at the SNF Parkway. 410-752-8083, mdfilmfest.com
A World Premiere Musical from Baltimore Center Stage
Listen, we get it: It’s a bit odd to be promoting something that hasn’t even been publicly named yet. But when we heard that director Kwame Kwei-Armah was producing a “major new musical project” featuring music from the ’60s and ’70s, we had no doubt it would be a blast … and groovy to boot. The musical is Kwei-Armah’s final production with Baltimore Center Stage; what they’re calling his “grand finale.” If his past work with the historic theater is any indication, it’s going to be great. And who can resist a world premiere?
$20-$74. May 3-June 10 at Baltimore Center Stage. 410-986-4000, centerstage.org
An Evening with John Williams
John Williams may have a bit of a generic name, but his legacy is anything but forgettable. The multiple Academy Award-winning composer has created scores for some of the nation’s most beloved movies for more than 60 years. Trust us, you’ve heard him; his credits include “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Jaws,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Saving Private Ryan” and the entirety of the “Star Wars,” “Harry Potter” and “Indiana Jones” sagas. And now, he’s coming to Charm City to lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a program of his scores, directed by the BSO’s Marin Alsop. It’s sure to be an epic evening.
$100-$200. June 13 at the Meyerhoff. 410-783-8000, bsomusic.org
Gertrude Stein and a Companion
Legendary novelist/poet/playwright Gertrude Stein’s list of friends reads a bit like our dream dinner party: Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, to name a few. But her most consistent companion, and the sole other character on stage in this production, is little-known Alice B. Toklas. After her partner’s death, Toklas reflects on Stein’s life in the form of conversation with her (Stein’s) ghost in an intellectual discourse that makes for great dialogue.
$19-$24. March 2-25 at the Fells Point Corner Theatre. fpct.org
Death of a King
Celebrate Black History Month a few days early with this stunning multi-media presentation commemorating the last year of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. Based on Tavis Smiley’s bestselling book “Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year,” the program includes narration, music and visual elements that tell the story of King’s courage in the face of plummeting popularity and his ongoing mission to bring “peace, equality and justice” to the divided United States.
$35-$125. Jan. 26 at the Modell Lyric. 410-900-1150, modell-lyric.com
Songs and Stories with Graham Nash
Though perhaps best-known for his membership in Crosby, Stills and Nash (and occasionally Young), Graham Nash is a star in his own right. In addition to the eight albums recorded by the trio/quartet, Nash has released six solo albums, most recently 2016’s “This Path Tonight.” Hear him perform and reflect on the songs that shaped his illustrious career at “An Intimate Evening of Songs and Stories with Graham Nash,” a 21-and-over show in Annapolis’ close-knit branch of the Rams Head conglomerate.
$135-$295. Feb. 27 at Rams Head on Stage in Annapolis. 410-268-4545, ramsheadonstage.com
If you treasure art solely for its pleasant aesthetic value, we hate to break it to you: Ed Weldon is going to stress you out. The artist’s work is chaotic, dark and unsettling, combining elements of horror and science fiction with disparate text and making his pieces nearly inscrutable … but undoubtedly impactful. Whether you like them or not seems almost irrelevant; they’re mesmerizing. And if you’re like us, you’ll be thinking about them long after you’ve walked away.
Free. On view Jan. 4-28 at the Alchemy of Art. thealchemyofart.net
The Winter’s Tale
We know, we know: This is supposed to be a spring arts preview. But Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” is anything but cold. The convoluted plot twists from suspected infidelity to treachery and tragedy, giving way to magic and romance and miracles so quickly you may find yourself wishing for an instant replay. But really, who better than the bard to take you on such a journey? (P.S. Harry Potter fans, this is where our beloved Hermione got her name!)
$16-$50. March 9–April 7 at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. 410-244-8570, chesapeakeshakespeare.com
The American Craft Show
Is it too early to think about your holiday shopping? Probably, but who could resist picking up a gift or two at the American Craft Show? The enormous craft fair brings more than 650 artists from around the country together to peddle every artisan ware you could imagine: Jewelry, clothing, furniture, home décor and more. The weekend will include plenty of oohing and aahing, of course, but also programming including craft workshops, a fashion show, a “room” outfitted entirely by in-house vendors and other offerings.
$16 one-day pass, $36 three-day pass. Feb. 23-25 at the Baltimore Convention Center. craftcouncil.org/Baltimore
Peabody Dance! Festival
See some of Baltimore’s best dancers take the stage for the Peabody Dance! Festival: A Community Celebration of Movement. Though details on the event are a bit scarce as of press time, any program led by Artistic Director and Peabody Chair of Conservatory Dance danah bella (lowercase letters preferred) is sure to be a stunning show.
Free. May 10 at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. peabody.jhu.edu